Thousands of demonstrators in Iran took to the streets this week to protest the country’s strained economy and put pressure on President Hassan Rouhani’s government.
Around 300 protesters gathered in the western city of Kermanshah on Friday, chanting anti-government slogans, while approximately 50 people protested at a public square in Tehran on Thursday to protest price hikes and the president’s economic policy.
After a police warning, most of them left but a few remained. Police reportedly made a few arrests.
Other angry demonstrators protested in cities across Iran on Thursday over rising food prices and inflation. Some unverified footage in social media showed police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
The head of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad told Fars news agency that 52 protesters were arrested in Mashhad over their “illegal” gathering on Thursday. The security deputy of Tehran’s governor said people should seek permission from the authorities before showing their anger and amassing in large numbers.
President Donald Trump, who has refused to re-certify Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, cheered the protesters in a tweet Friday.
“Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests.”
Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2017
The State Department late Friday also offered support to the protesters: “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people.”
Despite some improvements in the economy since the landmark 2015 nuclear deal lifted sanctions, the effects have yet to trickle down to ordinary Iranians. The prices of many basic goods, including eggs, have recently increased by 30-40 percent.
An Iranian analyst based in Tehran accused rivals of Iran’s president of having orchestrated the protests. He told the Associated Press, “The hands of political groups could be seen in (Thursday’s) gathering in Mashhad.”
A rally was scheduled for Saturday in Tehran to mark the anniversary of massive government-sponsored demonstrations in December 2009 that followed a crackdown and months of unrest after the contentious presidential elections in June of that year. This latest wave of protests is placing new pressure on Rouhani as his signature nuclear deal with world powers remains in peril.